The other day I had an unexpected encounter with a rattle snake - in January!
From March to November we often come across rattle snakes. Snakes eat rats and snakes like to hide in dark protected areas. What better place to live than in a rat nest - a cozy home and dinner comes to you.
When the weather gets cooler, snakes usually move into winter dens, often in rocky areas with an eastern exposure to catch the morning sun. It is not unusual for multiple snakes to nest together in the cold. When dealing with rat nests in rocky areas, I am always on guard regardless of the time of year.
On this inspection I was in a nicely landscaped area. There was a plastic storage container just a few inches from the house sitting on gravel. Never a good idea, because pack rats love narrow spaces and the gap between the wall of the house and the storage bin was perfect. The rats use the sheltered area to dig in and make a home either in or under the storage bin.
Sure enough there where signs of digging behind the bin, so I reached down to slide the container away from the wall to explore further. The bin was full of items and heavy, so I had to slip my hand under the edge lift, as I moved it over the gravel.
To my surprise there was a rattle snake just inches from where I had put my hand.
Fortunately, the weather was sunny but cool and the snake was lethargic. I grabbed my snake tongs and moved it a safe distance away from the home in a sunny area with lots of nearby shelter.
Two valuable lessons learned. The home owner learned not to put storage containers next to the house and I learned to NEVER assume it is safe to not be on guard for snakes regardless of the time of year or location.